Good communication between general practitioners (GPs) and psychiatrists is important. An audit of new patient referral letters from GPs and the first assessment letter in reply from psychiatrists found that GP letters were short (mean 106 words) with limited information which increased with letter length. Psychiatrist's letters were longer (mean 849 words), of a high quality but with a negative relationship between length and information score. Use of the ‘preferred’ format derived from previous research was associated with shorter letters of higher quality. Communication between GPs and psychiatrists might be improved if GPs wrote more and psychiatrists wrote less.
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